Oh the past few weeks have been absolutely awful in San Francisco. If I didn’t work on the Peninsula, I’d have no idea it was even summer. It sort of started to clear up this week, but our usual summer fog has been especially dreary this August (Fogust!).
Of course, soup is the only remedy for this gloomy weather.
I love making soup at any time of year (San Francisco weather is so mild, there’s rarely a day when it’s too hot for soup). It’s so easy — just plop a bunch of stuff into vegetable broth, simmer and enjoy! A few nights ago, I decided to make a really simple spinach soup using some vegetables I had on hand.
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
4 cups chopped spinach
2 cups brown rice
1 can cannellini beans
4 cups vegetable broth (I usually do half broth half water, so my broth stretches out more)
salt, pepper to taste
sprinkle of parmesan
red pepper flakes
There’s not a lot you need to know to make this soup — and it’s one of those soups that’s super flexible, and can be adjusted with different ingredients (quinoa for the rice, kale for the spinach, etc.) and seasoned in a million different ways.
I always start out soups the same way — seasonings and ingredients that need the most cooking into the pan first. I sautéed the onions and carrots in olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes (I like all of my food to have a little kick), oregano and plenty of salt to start off. I might be making this up, but I feel like putting in the seasoning this way really gets the flavor moving throughout the entire soup.
Next I add the beans in, and cook them until some of them start to get juuuuusttt a little crust on the bottom of the pan. Then I add in the broth (like I mentioned, I do 2 cups water, 2 cups broth, but that’s just me. It makes my veggie broth last longer, and I don’t think it effects the taste at all), and bring it to a rolling boil.
In the meantime, I cook my rice. Usually I have some good wild rice on hand, but I had run out and didn’t feel like spending 40 minutes cooking it on a weeknight, so I cheated and got the pre-made stuff. I always cook the rice separately, and then let people scoop in the amount they want. I always have a lot of leftovers (the best part!), and I’ve found grains REALLY expand when left overnight in the broth. And this soup really isn’t as appealing when it becomes sloppy rice goop.
Let the soup boil for 5-10 minutes (I never cook my soup that long. One of my co-workers gave me the hardest time, saying he cooks his for 2 hours minimum. But I’m impatient), and then bring it down to a simmer. Take the spinach and stir it all in. Let it simmer for another couple minutes, give it a good taste, and add extra seasoning if needed.
(Note: If you don’t have any rice, I feel like this soup would taste amazing with an egg poached in it)
Voila! That’s it. I like to top mine with a healthy scoop of parmesan cheese, a spoonful of harissa (I told you I like spice) and some freshly ground pepper.
Yum! The perfect cure for Fogust.
On a slightly related note, I’ve recently discovered an amazing solution for all my leftover vegetable scraps. We have a compost bin, but it doesn’t work very well and smells gross, but I feel terrible throwing all of my vegetable scraps away after cooking. Thanks to a tip on a favorite blog, I’m now freezing all of my vegetable scraps in a giant tupperware to make a future giant batch of homemade vegetable stock! I’ve just started saving, so I’ll let you know how it goes.